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Farewell to an old friend, Toys "R" Us closing down shops

By: Mohamed Adel The story starts in 1948. Charles Lazarus started a children's furniture store, but then thought of selling toys alongside the furniture. He later shifted his focus towards selling toys and the store was reincarnated to what was called Children's Bargain Town. The name was then changed, after almost 10 years, to its current hallmark name "Toys "R" Us". Being in the toy business for more than 60 years, the chain had 800 stores in the US alone and another 800 spread around the globe. The store chain was heavily involved in charity. They partnered with Toys for Tots, a charitable program run by the US Marine Corps, , and it has been reported that Toys "R" Us campaigns have raised over $55 million and donated more than 4 million toys. Also the Toys "R" Us children's fund has donated more than 7.6 million dollars to "Save The Children organization in the wake of recent natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. But unfortunately, as the world taught us, all things must come to an end. In September 2017, Toys "R" Us filed for Bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada. A few months later, on the 14th of March 2018, they announced that all UK stores are to close down. And just a day later, it was sadly announced that after almost 7 decades, all US stores will be closing down and their locations will be sold. After selling off all products with sales reaching up to 95%, the final stores in the US closed down on the 29th of June 2018. So what was the cause behind the closing of one of the world's most famous and important stores? The problem started showing signs in 1998, when Walmart started to sell toys even more than Toys "R" Us.  After being on top throughout the 90s, this started garnering concern. The real problem however, started in 2005 when a trio of investors; Bain Capital, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Vornado Realty Trust invested huge amounts of money and turned the stores into a private business. The company quickly fell into huge amounts of debt valued at 5 billion dollars which the company struggled to pay. The debt payments became an issue especially with competitors such as Walmart, Target and Amazon being in the game. The company blamed these companies and specifically Amazon for its bankruptcy, as they claimed that they priced their toys at extremely low prices, so much that the company wasn't able to compete or gather any profit. The debt payments prevented the company from investing in new and innovative products, improving their in-store experience to attract customers and of course, they weren't able to invest in boosting their e-commerce division. Not at a level that would be able to compete with Amazon. An event that truly marks the domination of e-commerce and technology over the current world and over this generation. A lot has changed since the inception of the original toy stores and the times of playing outside with your friends with toys are almost completely behind us. Does this mark the beginning of the end for the age of simple toys and the complete domination of video games and consoles? Or will people adhere to their traditions and teach their kids that playing outside with nature surrounding you and with friends has its own beautiful impact on the soul? 

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